There’s beauty in imperfection. What some people may consider odd, unappealing, or ugly is something you can be proud of and inspire others to embrace their flaws and imperfections.
Xueli Abbing is a girl born with albinism. Because albinism is sometimes seen as a curse in some parts of China, Xueli’s biological parents left her outside an orphanage and abandoned her when she was a baby.
During that time, China had a strict one-child policy on families. Some parents who had children with albinism locked them away or painted their hair black. Others simply abandoned them, just like what they did to Xueli.
If that sounds horrifying, witch doctors in Africa believe that the bones of people with albinism can be used to cure diseases. That’s why they’re hunted and killed, their limbs cut off.
After learning about the horrific flight of these children, Xueli knows she’s one of the fortunate few to have only been abandoned.
She was named Xueli by the people at the orphanage, xue meaning ‘snow’ and li meaning ‘beautiful.’ At three, Xueli was adopted and moved to the Netherlands to live with her new mom and sister. Her mother kept the name Xueli―a perfect name to honor her Chinese roots.
There was no information about her date of birth, so Xueli didn’t know what her birthday was. But a year ago, doctors took an X-ray of her hand and found that she was about fifteen years old.
When Xueli was eleven, she entered the modeling world. And at just sixteen years old, Xueli has appeared in major fashion magazines and fronted various campaigns of the biggest fashion designers in the world.
When not walking the runways or posing for the camera, Xueli likes to watch a lot of educational videos on YouTube.
She loves to learn a lot of strange facts and often philosophizes about life with other people. She also likes to crochet and engage in sports, particularly climbing.
Being a model with albinism isn’t as glamorous or easy as people think, though. According to Xueli, she can’t look directly at camera flashes or studio lights because they hurt her eyes.
When the lights are too bright or harsh, she asks if she can just close her eyes or if they can turn down the lights.
Fortunately, Xueli’s management ensures she’s comfortable at work. If a client can’t honor her requests, Xueli won’t work with them.
Zebedee Management currently represents her, a talent agency focusing on people with disabilities and visible differences and whose campaigns are trying to change the game in the media, advertising, and fashion industries.
Xueli loves modeling because it allows her to meet new people and practice her English. Seeing people happy over her pictures also gives Xueli happiness.
She wants to use modeling to educate people that albinism is a genetic disorder, not a curse, and that people with disabilities can participate in society because they’re just like everyone else.
Albinism is a rare genetic condition that affects the production of melanin, resulting in pale skin and hair, and extreme sensitivity to sunlight.
For Xueli, this means only having eight to 10% vision. One in 20,000 people worldwide is born with this genetic condition.
As a person with albinism, Xueli refuses to accept that children are being killed because of it. She wants to change the world.
And she can, with the help of her talent agency and her sister Yara, her social media manager, and occasional photographer.
Now that Xueli is turning heads and making people really look at her, she wants other children with albinism―or any disability or difference―to know that they can be anything they want. Even if people tell you that you can’t, you can if you’ll just give it a try.
To follow Xueli’s modeling career and life adventures, please follow her Instagram page.